Posted in EFL

Blake’s four technological myths Week 3.1

Below is my reflection on ‘The four myths about technology and L2 acquisition’ from Brave New Digital Classroom(Robert J. Blake, 2013 p9)

Technology is Monolithic

I bought my first smart phone about one year ago and I had resisted owning a more basic mobile phone for years before that. The main reasons were for fears of radioactive waves and all the hypnotised mobile zombies I saw on the train everyday. It was my students that finally convinced me to up-grade my life by showing me all the things you could do with mobiles in class.

I have definitely met teachers who refuse to engage with digital technologies or see them as having a negative effect on SLA. They feel that the use of the IWB, laptops and other devices, creates barriers or an unwelcome distraction. After initially getting irritated by mobile use in class, I eventually started to take advantage of their ubiquity and affordances for SLA.

Another aspect that fuels teacher resistance is the unreliability of equipment or Wi-Fi connection. This has been an issue in recent years in my school and has caused me to shy away from internet based lessons. Instead, I tend to use the internet spontaneously to bring up a map, image, online dictionary or YouTube video. This makes me feel more comfortable as I am not reliant on the Wi-Fi connection.

Technology constitutes a methodology

At the moment I agree with Blake when he describes technology as a tool that is ‘theoretically and methodologically neutral'(Robert J. Blake, 2013 p.9) but I am open to the idea that this might change in the future. For example, Cambridge exams are now mostly computer-based, meaning that students with a better grasp of digital literacies might have an advantage. Strategies for receptive skills need to be reconsidered, students can no longer highlight key words or underline answers in the text. As for productive skills, students need to type in answers and are able to edit their text more easily. All of this will have a technologically positive backwash effect on any Cambridge exam course, but it also means that teachers who do not engage in technology might be failing their students.

Today’s technology is all we need to know

Last year my school introduced Google Docs as an option for storing and sharing student work. Unfortunately, due to problems with the Wi-Fi and the procedure for using laptops I never really explored it and still have uncertainties about cloud computing. Technology is changing very fast and it is easy to get out of touch, that said can see patterns in the types of apps or websites that are being created. I think that understanding the general concept behind common Web 2.0 tools like social networks, VLEs, MOOCs, blogs and wikis, helps you identify how new applications can be used for SLA.

Technology will replace teachers

Again, I think I agree with Blake’s idea that ‘teachers who use technology will probably replace teachers who do not'(Robert J. Blake, 2013 p.9). However, in practice I often see digitally literate teachers using technology ineffectively. This is especially true when it comes to the use of linear 150 slide PowerPoint presentations which offer little flexibility and take hours to prepare. So I would change Blake’s message to; teachers who use technology effectively will probably replace teachers who do not.

References

Robert J. Blake, (2013) Brave New Digital Classroom. Washington DC (Georgetown University Press.

Featured image

Robert J. Blake, (2013) Brave New Digital Classroom. Washington DC (Georgetown University Press.

 

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